Street races “extremely difficult and uncomfortable” with Aeroscreen – Bourdais


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The higher cockpit temperatures caused by IndyCar’s Aeroscreen has made street races much more physically demanding, says Sebastien Bourdais.

The screen was added to cars last year to improve safety, but it has also significantly reduced airflow inside the cockpits. Drivers are therefore experiencing higher cockpit temperatures, especially at slower tracks.

While Bourdais praised the safety benefit the Aeroscreen has brought on high-speed circuits, he said he would prefer not to use it at some venues.

“The Aeroscreen safety-wise, particularly for the ovals and the superspeedways, is just the single biggest investment, for sure, as far as safety is concerned,” he said.

“For me, for sure, on the street courses I sometimes wish the screen wasn’t there because I feel like it’s making things extremely difficult and uncomfortable in the car.

Start, IndyCar, Detroit, 2018
IndyCar didn’t race in Detroit last year due to the pandemic
“I think it’s one very tough compromise. You just add that big safety piece on an existing car that really wasn’t designed for anything like this, how you manage the airflow and everything around [it].”

IndyCar will hold two 70-lap races on the Belle Isle circuit in Detroit this weekend, where air temperatures are forecast to reach almost 30C, with a slight chance of rain on Saturday.

“For sure when it gets hot and humid, particularly on street courses, the body temperature inside the [49C] cockpit gets pretty critical,” said Bourdais. “It’s never really a fun last 10, 15 laps of those races.

“Doing it twice in a weekend, I think that the dehydration level is going to be tough. [I’m] probably not the best suited for that because I don’t deal super-well with dehydration.

“But it is the challenge, that’s for everybody. We’ll just have to add it to the numerous list that composes Detroit, I guess.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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32 comments on “Street races “extremely difficult and uncomfortable” with Aeroscreen – Bourdais”

  1. But it’s still more comfortable than being paralyzed or worse

    1. Maybe he’s angling for an adjustement for the aeroscreen for street circuits, like for example removing the screen and racing only with the halo like structure in street circuits. Which makes sense to me honestly, though i have no idea how good the structure itself without the screen would be functionally

      1. Yeah, I guess that is more or less what he is arguing for @xenn1. I am sure it is possible to do (the Halo is a standard device now, they could just bolt that to the cars, I guess), but not sure they could do it right away (maybe need to make slight adjustments to the mounting points?)

        1. @bascb No bolting the halo on isn’t really an easy solution. They’d have to redo the monocoque for that because you can’t just drill some holes on a carbon fibre chassis unfortunately. Unless the aeroscreen has the exact same mounting points and screws as the halo, this isn’t a feasible solution

          1. Well, I would actually be somewhat surprised if the aeroscreen does use hugely different mounting points than the Halo, since the Halo was already finished before the aeroscreen was refined as an improvement on that for IndyCar.

            It might not be the case (since Dallara had to adjust the already existing chassis. But even then it would be most logical to use the same (why reinvent the wheel, right).

    2. There’s better options than paralysis, like using the halo for street races.

  2. Really absurd to want to race without it after seeing Grosjean’s crash in F1. Heat? Yeah sounds tough, but you’ll live.

    1. The Halo without the screen would still works based on RG’s crash (and other incidents)
      And you can turn down the A/C.

    2. Aeroscreen is not the Halo. It’s the windscreen. It has a role for gravel, bolts etc that would otherwise miss the centre pillar but not glance off the rounded helmet sides, and penetrate the reinforced helmet visor, that’s all. Statistically it’s a tiny probability.

      The effect on fans, visually, is the same as a closed cockpit, which would have been safer for Grosjean. imo it’s mostly about Indycars not wanting to be seen tamely following F1 with Halo, but having to go one better, and ending up with something a bit nonsensical.

      1. Gavin Campbell
        9th June 2021, 15:54

        The Indycar solution is called an “Aeroscreen” but its really an Aeroscreen with a Halo. Indycar introduced it all together and refers to it all as the “Aeroscreen”

        If the device is creating some extremes of temperatures in the cockpits then on Road/Street courses a look to possibly drop down to Halo only is a very reasonable idea.

        1. Aeroscreen is not Halo, your attempt at condescension is uncalled for and a bit of a fail. I don’t know why you’re talking about taking the screen part off either, as though someone had disagreed.

          1. Sigh @zann. Why those choice of words. Gavin is quite right. The Aeroscreen device is more or less a plexiglass screen mounted to a device that is constructed very similarly to the Halo (and based on the experience of introducing the Halo in F1 – they shared Data).

            It makes a lot of sense to have the screen on the high speed ovals, where even small debris comes at the drivers with far greater speed. Maybe at street tracks they could make a version that is basically just the Halo (or bolt the standard part that is the Halo to the cars)

  3. Can’t they have a lower spec version for slower speed tracks with some kind of ventilation holes. They could be 3-5mm and still prevent bolts etc (as in Massa’s accident) flying through?

    1. From what I remember of my engineering, the effect of adding holes on any surface goes beyond just the hole area but also affects the strength of the overall structure and makes it easier to bend and break the surface.

      So, may not be doable.

  4. Would some sort of McLaren F duct setup not allow air to enter the cockpit and help them a little. Only without the aerodynamic advantage?

    1. That was really only little bit of air, and not at high speed either if I recall correctly @eurobrun; I suspect the already existing ventilation they engineered into it (see slits ahead of the structure on the nose) are better than that already, but it’s quite a difference between the screen and a halo in ventilation.

  5. Such a non-story this one, they already have several solutions available for better airflow into the cockpit/driver, and the JDC-Cadillac he drives on for hours and hours in the other series has a full canopy and they seem to manage

    1. Does the JDC-cadillac race on street circuits? and you know the temperature inside both cars? The indycar is far tighter and higher g forces.

      1. @kpcart ,( or someone anonymous using the name) really ?

        ok, lets see off the top of my head… Long Beach Indy circuit, and… ummm, the one in Belle Isle, the Dual in Detroit where both series run next weekend ?

        How do g forces affect cabin temperature, I must’ve missed that physics 101

        1. No, youve missed that SB is talking from experience and youre talking from your couch. Im sure that if SB says its excessively hot then its because after all the years hes raced he’s lately experienced this new lack of airflow as a problem worth discussing.

        2. I think he can’t access his account anymore so he comments anonymously.

    2. @uneedafinn2win IMSA have cooling solutions available which Indycar don’t because they don’t have the extra room in the cars to run those solutions. All Indycar can do is add vents to send air into the cockpit & through tubes into the helmet.

      IMSA (As well as WEC I believe) actually made it mandatory some years ago for cockpit temperatures to remain below certain levels & require teams to run some form of additional cooling system to ensure cockpit temperatures remain below what they deem as acceptable.

      1. Yes, 50 Celcius

    3. Señor Sjon
      9th June 2021, 11:46

      Most sportscars have a/c these days. Keeping a driver fresh will give you more performance than the a/c power loss.

  6. Perhaps there should be an adjustment to the aeroscreen, an opening where the screen meets the chassis in front of the driver. In that case air can flow through towards the driver, but bigger debris can not.

    1. In that case air can flow through towards the driver, but bigger debris can not.

      They can use Pirelli tyres to pick up the debris.

    2. RandomMallard (@)
      9th June 2021, 11:22

      @matthijs As someone points out above, I believe this would likely weaken the entire structure of the screen, making it easier to bend or break.

  7. Street circuits are not circuits. Please stop using street circuits

    1. Any course that links it’s starting point with it’s ending point is a circuit. That is literally what a circuit is.

  8. I think there’s plenty of scope for adding a few small holes, as holes can actually act as a crack stopper as they increase the radius of the crack front. Sure, it would weaken it compared to a solid screen, but street circuits aren’t as fast as ovals, and kinetic energy goes up with the square of speed.
    Longer term, they should look into instead improving ventilation into the cockpit through other routes, but it might be tricky to implement until they move to a wholly new chassis design.

    I also wonder whether the regulations could introduce a rule limiting the steering caster angle, as the reason unassisted steering is heavy is because that angle (and the kingpin inclination in the other axis) is such that the drivers are effectively lifting the car up via a large lever. If those angles were zero, it would be super easy to turn, but the handling and grip would be awful. I understand that different teams’ cars have differing steering weight, so I believe they are currently free to change these angles.

  9. I’ve asked this question since it was implemented. Why can’t they add a small hole, slot, NACA duct (whatever most functional) at the back on each side of the aeroscreen? Maybe another one at the bottom of the front of the screen, like used on many motorcycle windshields. Then like your house with a window open on each side of it, they’d get air flowing through the entire cockpit, pulling from the large opening at the top of it and front slot, exhausting out the holes. Rather than just trying to ram air through a hose to their helmets. The possibilities of something small going through one of the small holes would be slim to none. It would easy to test to see if it weakens the screen. Even if it did slightly, I think most drivers would be in favor for a more comfortable cockpit.

  10. RocketTankski
    10th June 2021, 19:47

    Some kind of liquid cooling system with radiators and fans. Cooled seats maybe? And a few cup holders. Plus an ice cream break halfway through.

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